As we approach the last quarter of 2015, marketers are undoubtedly starting to ask burning questions about the year ahead. Will content continue to be as important? How is social going to fare against mobile? Will programmatic TV take off? Let’s take a look at the five key trends that are going to shape the digital marketing world in 2016.
The rise of digital marketing in recent years has seen a huge shift in the way display, native and content advertising are implemented. Many outbound strategies have become antiquated, while inbound marketing, like content, has seen great success in developing branding and growing audiences. Although ads featured in external channels will still be a vital component of campaigns, content will continue to rise in importance in 2016. To achieve maximum success with content, marketers should focus on longer, informative articles that will appeal to their consumers’ emotions and be perceived as trustworthy.
With consumers being exposed to increasing amounts of brand messaging, expectation for quality will be the norm in 2016. When a customer visits a website, they expect an eye-catching and smooth experience. If your user can’t navigate your site without getting bored or confused, it’s time to do a full website sweep before 2016 hits. Design has to be top quality and content needs to be relevant and personalised for the target audience. There also need to be images and graphics that reflect content and appeal to consumers. With so much choice on offer, consumers will go elsewhere if their expectations aren’t met.
Mobile has become one of the major deployment options for marketers and is predicted to account for 66% of the growth in interactive spend over the next five years. With an anticipated 2 billion smartphone users by 2016, marketers cannot ignore the prominence of mobile. Forrester Research predicts it will overtake email and social in 2016, and that “mobile will push digital ad spend beyond TV by 2019”. Consumers must be able to easily access information from their smartphones, therefore marketers must ensure that websites are optimised for mobile.
There’s a lot of anticipation around the development of programmatic TV. Still in its infancy, it is taking longer than other channels to harness programmatic. This is largely because of the difficulty in determining TV audiences. Programmatic works, and works well, because of the ability to establish vast amounts of data about consumers. For example, online, browsing and buying histories are accessible, whereas this sort of information isn’t readily available for TV viewers, unless they have a specific type of set-top box with streaming like Apple TV or Roku.
However, there is no doubt that programmatic will dominate TV advertising in the future, and the ball could really get rolling in 2016. Cable broadcasters are already keen on developing their own hardware to provide addressable advertising, and this year’s Ad:Tech conference on digital marketing, to be held in November in New York, has two sessions dedicated to programmatic TV. The 2016 US presidential election campaign is going to be a key factor in accelerating growth, and is likely to funnel innovation in the programmatic TV field that would not happen under normal market-driven circumstances.
2016 is set to be an exciting year for new technology. Marketers will be keen to follow the progress of products like virtual reality headset, Occulus Rift, and mobile-compatible smartwatches. Indeed, Occulus Rift has already been used as a deployment platform by tourist board, South Africa Tourism, hotelier, Marriott, and high street fashion chain, Topshop. Both South Africa Tourism and Marriott created virtual travel experiences, whilst Topshop presented a virtualised catwalk show at its flagship store. Smartwatches are also poised to take off, with the user adoption rate of wearable technology predicted to be 28% by 2016.
New technologies like these will provide gateways into deeply immersive experiential marketing. Although consumer-ready versions of virtual reality headsets and smartwatches will be ready in 2016, being such new creative mediums, it means that the very language involved around the creative process is not established. As such, new tech in 2016 will serve as a test bed for new forms of marketing.